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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Travel by Twitter: travel revolution or evolution?

How many of you have started using Twitter when you travel? For a while now I've been noticing a few tweets here and there, like "Can anyone recommend a good sushi joint in Castlemaine?" and "Checking out of the Cairo fleapit that was Lonely Planet's author choice. Alternatives please!"or "In Venice. Where are the Venetians to be found?!" But I'm wondering if two Twit-trips by travel writers for The Guardian, a recent one to Paris by Benji Lanyado and one coming up by Paul Smith AKA the Twitchhiker, are extensions of a gradual evolution of travel practices by Twitter that's already underway, or whether these journeys by Twitter represent - or perhaps might inspire - a travel revolution of a kind. Stay tuned for more thoughts on each, but in the meantime, a bit more about Twitter.

Pictured? Two young travellers looking a bit lost in Venice last summer. They could probably have done with some advice from Twitterers - or anyone for that matter. Me? I was working, sorry. It's bad enough poor Terry getting asked every ten minutes to take people's happy snaps when he's trying to shoot several hundred images for a guidebook.


Ant said...

I don't know about starting a revolution, but it might sustain it.

I can certainly see the benefit of Twitter enhancing someones trip, my only fear is that people will travel through Twitter, ergo it becomes the new "bible" that people over-rely on instead of upturning new things for themselves.

"No dear, we can't go there, three of the Twitterers say it's rubbish"

Lara Dunston said...

Hi Ant

I think you're dead right in that people may start to do that in the way they have done it with guidebooks, so it won't be vastly different to what most people do now, which is essentially to play it safe, and only go places that have been recommended, validated and verified.

I guess I'm thinking it may be a revolution in that a colossal number of people might start travelling by Twitter. But then again I'm wondering how many people are already doing this and whether it's going to be a gradual increase...

I'd like to see another kind of revolution take place in travel, but I'm not going to say what that is just yet... I want to see how this plays out first.

Thanks for dropping by, Ant!

Jessie V said...

it is always a good idea to research your trip - through whatever means possible. it is fun to see it on twitter. but!! how can you trust that you have the same taste as someone else? in 140 characters?

Lara Dunston said...

Hi Jessie - that's my biggest problem too - how do you know who you can trust? - and it's the same problem I have with Trip Advisor and other community-driven travel sites. You need to make sure you have the same taste as the person who raves or rants about a place. You can't just trust anyone to tell you a place is fantastic. They might think the Hard Rock Cafe is fantastic.

Or, rather than taste, it could boil down to experience. If you've never stayed in a 5 star hotel before, you're probably going to thing that first one is pretty luxurious. If you've stayed in 10 - or hundreds/thousands, as most travel writers have, then you have something to compare it with.

Adventure Rob said...

Revolution, no, at least not yet. Twitter is still a new baby and yet to florish, there may even be a new craze by the time it becomes big enough to be that useful too.

I have got a result from posting 'bored in [location]' and got a few tips of where to go and what to do. But asking 'what can I do in [location]?' seems to get less results.

Unfortunately a lot of the population on their are spamming advertising now, and I think that will ruin the idea, advertising on there will only work if they also have other non-advert interesting things to say, as they won't get followers like that.

Lara Dunston said...

Hi Rob

Thanks for your thoughts - much appreciated.

Yeah, I'm still experimenting with Twitter. I think the key is to success in terms of travel advice is gathering a group of like-minded followers in that location before you ask the question. I did it for one destination where I had that happening, and got some terrific answers, but then I posted a question about another place and got nothing.

The advertising is driving me nuts too. Who wants to get tweets from a biscuit company rep for godsake!?! If people are spamming too much then I'm just blocking them.

Yes, it will be interesting to see where it goes...

Thanks again for your comment!